Ivy League Schools Are About to Deliver Extra Dose of Heartache

Many high school seniors looking to attend the most competitive U.S. colleges are about to have their hearts broken after an already difficult year.

Students on average applied to 9% more colleges as of March 1 compared with last year, according to data from the Common Application, a nonprofit that lets individuals apply to multiple schools.

Colleges have already begun informing students about their decisions for the fall semester. The eight Ivy League schools are expected to do so on Tuesday, later than usual because of the deluge of applications. Harvard, for example, saw a 42% increase from 2020.

“It’s been a hard year, and so many more kids applied,” said Jed Applerouth, who runs Atlanta-based Applerouth Co., a test-prep and tutoring firm. “When the schools on your list are only taking a small number, you have to apply to more schools.”

Once again, the pandemic has upended the college-admissions cycle.

Harvard Applications Surge as Students Flock to Top Names

In 2020, high school seniors made decisions without visiting campuses after being accepted, and some delayed their start by taking gap years. This year, they had limited options for in-person campus tours, and with schools scrapping standardized-test requirements, they found a lot of extra time to submit more applications. Plus, they had nothing to lose by throwing in more applications to schools not asking to see their SAT or ACT scores.